I have just read this very interesting post from Sitearm discussing the pros and cons (well pros mostly!) of using Viewer2 with new student users of Second Life. It certainly gave me food for thought as I reflect on my own experiences of teaching in SL this semester.
Our course this semester was taught partly in RL by me (on campus in the computer lab), partly in SL by a staff member (from a remote location) and assisted in both places by a third on-campus staff member. Each of us had our own ‘preferred viewer profile”.
I have yet to make a successful transition to V2. Apart from early trials I have used it only when I have had no other option and it has not yet become intuitive for me. I am still at the “where do I find xxxx?” and ‘grrrrr this sidebar!” stage. A long term user of the old viewer, I eventually moved to Imprudence as I explored OpenSim and began the laborious process of exporting objects from Second Life. My colleague, like Sitearm, saw the writing on the wall for the old viewers and made a conscious decision to learn and use Viewer 2 from its early days. Although he also uses other TPVs particularly for exporting to and accessing OpenSim grids, he is an experienced and comfortable user of V2. Our assistant has only ever used V2!
The students themselves came from two quite different programmes and with different levels of technical ability. In addition, some students from the IT degree programme had their own dedicated laptops (on which they have administrator rights) while the others only had access to the institutional computers (unless they downloaded at home on their own personal machines) which were locked down and ran only V2. Just to complicate the issue a little more, some but not all of the IT students had already used Second Life and had v1.23 or some other TPV installed.
While it was clear that most of the students would be using V2, I chose not to enforce it as the ‘only’ viewer – partly because of my own preferences and partly as we would have no need for the additional functionality – moap for example. So at any time when an inworld class was happening, it was not unusual to have some students using V2, some using v1.23, some using a different TPV and on occasion some switching from V1.23 on their laptop to V2 on the lab computer depending on what they were trying to achieve in Second Life.
Chaos? Maybe but nothing that seemed too problemmatic. Yes, I struggled to help some students with basic V2 UI issues and yes, it was sometimes confusing for my remote colleague not knowing which viewer a student was working on but in general, it was a non-issue. I liked to see the diversity in the classroom with those students who had a choice making their own decisions about what to use for which activity.
In the future? I think it will depend on the students themselves but as next year’s offering will take us beyond Second Life into other virtual world grids I think I will be looking to have one of the TPVs as our ‘default’. However, I have realised that I personally should update my V2 skills *sighs – perhaps I will come to love it!
Would love to hear your ‘viewer in the learning environment’ experiences!